The Point (Banjul)

1 February 2013

Gambia: OIC 'Women Development Organization Statute' Ratified

The members of the National Assembly of The Gambia Thursday unanimously considered and ratified the Statute of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Women Development Organization during an extra-ordinary session at the National Assembly Chambers in Banjul.

Laying the motion before lawmakers, Balla Garba Jahumpa, Minister of Health and Social Welfare and also Minster responsible for National Assembly Matters on behalf of the Vice President and Minister of Women's Affairs, said the extra-ordinary Islamic Summit Conference held in Makka al Mukarrama in Saudi Arabia and the 1st and 2nd Conference on the Role of Women in the Development of OIC member states held in Istanbul and Cairo and the 36th session of the council of foreign ministers held in Damascus, all agreed on the establishment of a specialized organization specifically to develop women through capacity building and encourage their effective participation in the society.

The statute, he said, has been developed to create in the OIC, a specialized organization called the 'Women Development Organization' in member states of the OIC.

It will be responsible for the development and promotion of the role of women in the OIC member states, through capacity, skills and competence building through various mechanisms, including training, education and rehabilitation.

The main aim of the organization, among others, is to highlight the role of Islam in preserving the rights of Muslim women, especially at international fora in which the organization is involved.

It also seek to develop plans, programmes and projects necessary to implement policies, orientations and decisions of the OIC in the area of women's development; support and encourage national efforts in member states to develop human resources in the area of women's development.

Minister Jahumpa also informed the Assembly that the organization will activate the rights of women stated in the OIC charter by working to remove the restrictions to ensure the full participation of women in community building, adding that it will also establish an information network that will enable member states to identify experiences and practices regarding women, through cooperation with civil society.

The ratification of the statute, he said, shall permit The Gambia to be a member of the organization, and hence has a say in the running of the organization.

It would also allow Gambians, Gambian women in particular, to benefit from programmes and projects to be implemented by the organization to enhance the socio-economic development and the promotion of the role of women in OIC member states.

The ratification of this Statue will further enable The Gambia to qualify in its bid to host the 2017 OIC Summit, he concluded.

Seconding the motion, Honourable Fatou Mbye, deputy speaker of the National Assembly, described the motion as very important, noting that the Gambia is a member of the OIC and 95% of the population is Muslim.

She said the motion was a 'non-controversial' one, noting that Islam holds women in high esteem, as there is no Islamic law that discriminates women.

According to Honorable Mbye, the creation of the organization is very important and relevant for Gambian women, citing that the country has registered tremendous progress in women empowerment.

On her part, Haddy Nyang-Jagne, member for Jeshwang Constituency, said the Statue is in line with the tenets of the government and President Jammeh's proactive measure for women development.

According to her, women are key participants in the development of Islam, saying the Organization is in recognition of the critical role of women in the society. "This Statue will help to build the capacity of women. This is a non-controversial motion and I urge my colleagues to ratify it," she added.

On his part, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, member for Serrekunda East and Majority Leader said the organization will help to enlighten the people about the tenets and principles of Islam.

According to him, there is already policies and legal framework that seek to develop women, noting that the country is second to none to recognizing the critical role of women in the society.

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